MONTREAL - Montreal police are scouring archives and talking to law-enforcement colleagues elsewhere to determine whether murder suspect Luka Rocco Magnotta is tied to any other unsolved cases.
The nature of Magnotta's alleged crime — the victim's corpse was dismembered and then defiled — has given investigators a unique profile to match with other murders.
Already police officials in the Quebec town of Gatineau have indicated they will contact their Montreal counterparts to look for possible connections with the 2011 slaying of Valerie Leblanc, an 18-year-old college student.
Leblanc's body was discovered in a forest behind the college she attended. The body was mutilated, burned and there were signs of severe head trauma.
"We had a distinct murder here — the murder of Valerie Leblanc — last August," Gatineau police Sgt. Jean-Paul Lemay said in an interview.
"It's part of the plan to see if there are links to be made. But it's the kind of action that is routine in this kind of murder case."
Lemay added nothing at the moment suggests Magnotta was behind the Leblanc murder.
He said Gatineau police nevertheless have a "moral obligation" to verify the possibility there may be a link.
Gatineau police released a description of a suspect last year that bears little resemblance to Magnotta. The man being sought was described as French-speaking, weighing 200 pounds and walked with a limp.
Magnotta is said to speak little French, weighs around 130 pounds and is able-bodied.
He was arrested earlier this week in Berlin for the murder of Jun Lin, a Chinese national studying in Montreal.
Magnotta told a German judge he does not plan to oppose an extradition request, which means he could be back in Canada in the near future.
In the meantime, police in Montreal will be sifting through their own files to see whether Magnotta's suspected modus operandi corresponds with any of their cold cases.
"We'll look through the files we have, both in the unsolved crimes catergory and among the assault cases," said Denis Mainville, who heads the major crimes division of the Montreal police.
He added the force has been in contact with other law-enforcement agencies as well.
"It would not be very intelligent not to look at other possibilities — and now we're working different cases," Mainville said.
Criminal experts say it is important for police to establish a firm timeline of Magnotta's many travels, which will help them narrow their search.
Along with Montreal and Berlin, Magnotta is thought to have spent time in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Paris and London.
Experts also say sexually deviant behaviour does not tend to manifest itself suddenly in adults. They recommend investigators go back far enough in time to begin their search.
"Given a suspect's age, the likelihood is that he's been thinking these thoughts for a while," said Glenn Woods, a former criminal profiler for the RCMP.
"It wouldn't be out of the question for him to be acting out in the same way, not necessarily to the same degree, but acting out."
Magnotta is 29.
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